Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Mease, Jennifer J., and Bronwyn Neal. 2023. “Paradox as Resistance in Male Dominated Fields and the Value of (Sur)facing Enthymematic Narratives.” Gender, Work & Organization: 1–20.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License


Women working in masculine organizational contexts face a challenge of balancing (1) access to power by co-opting masculine discourse in ways that risk reinforcing it, with (2) challenging and resisting practices that privilege masculinity. In this manuscript, we address one communication strategy for navigating that challenge: The denial/acknowledgment paradox in which women explicitly deny that gender affected their experience, but also describe the many ways it affected their experience. To do so, we examined transcripts of interviews with 11 women candidates who ran in the 2017 Virginia House of Delegates election in the United States and demonstrated this paradoxical communication strategy. Our analysis offers five different structures of the denial/acknowledgment paradox and shows how four of those structures engage what we call an “enthymematic narrative” of victimhood. Ultimately, we argue that (sur) facing the enthymematic narrative amplifies the generative potential of the denial/acknowledgment paradox and suggest that (sur)facing enthymematic narratives should be taken up more broadly as a strategy for organizational and social change.